Family Friday: Why training your dog is not about the tricks

Our rescue Lab, Kumba, can sit, lie down, stay, and come when called. He’s also a huge fan of cucumbers and will do this routine to get a piece.

I wanted some new challenges for us. So, I called dog trainer Alison Chambers of Complete Canine Training for suggestions.

I was expecting Alison to give me a list of new tricks. Instead, I learned a much better lesson.

Training is about building a relationship

Training is about building a relationship with your dog, helping him to live in the world you’ve brought him into. 

Helping your dog live in your world

The goal is to make both your lives more functional for your lifestyle. If you own a boat, you want the dog to be able to jump on and off. If you take your dog to work, you want her to lie by your side. If you’re gone all day, you want your dog to be able to be alone without destroying the house.

Learning to listen to each other

You build this relationship with your dog through communication. It’s a two-way process. He needs to learn to listen to you, and you need to learn how to listen to him.

Step one: “Watch me.”

Before a walk, have your dog sit by your side, looking up at you. Periodically during the walk, ask for that focus: “Watch me.” Work toward having your dog pay attention to you the whole time, with a goal of being able to walk through a crowd undistracted.

Step two: Be more exciting than anything else.

Be fun to be around. Toys, treats, different activities, and varied commands add variety to your time with your dog. Make it easy for her to choose you instead of anything else.

Step three: Add distraction.

Other dogs, a passing car, or a favorite toy are all opportunities to practice getting and keeping your dog’s attention. Begin with distant distractions — a dog approaching from the other end of the block — and work up to closer distractions. Ask her to “watch me” instead of her favorite toy when you are holding it overhead.

Step four: Practice, practice, practice.

Look for opportunities to train your dog to pay attention to you. Instead of avoiding the neighborhood bully — I do a u-turn when I see the dog  that Kumba really dislikes — stay the course and help your dog be successful in “watch me” even when temptation is nearby. Your goal is to replace anxiety and fear with approval-seeking: “Oh, there’s that awful dog, so now I get that wonderful treat, right?!”

Alison’s suggestions have already changed my interactions with Kumba, especially during our walks through our neighborhood. Every other dog is now an opportunity to engage our dog in paying attention, for which I reward him with a special treat, this week being tiny pieces of leftover steak. And our afternoon sit, stay, come routine has become a lot more fun now that my husband has joined the game. Nice company for me, more of a workout for Kumba, and a new habit for all three of us!

Who says human’s can’t learn new tricks?

You can read more of Alison’s guidance in previous posts: How to introduce your pandemic pup to a new dog, How to help your unsocialized dog say hello and How to train your pandemic pup.

Wellness Wednesday: What Water Exercise Can Do For You

Water saved my life

On Christmas Eve 2019, I wrote that water keeps saving my life. My work as an instructor of aquatic exercise had me fit enough to survive a ruptured arterial aneurysm and six weeks in an Amsterdam ICU in May of 2019, and I recovered the ability to move in water long before I could replicate those moves on land as my recovery continued back home in Florida.

Boynton Inlet, Palm Beach County, Florida

Today, I’ve tapped into two friends who are water fitness instructors — Janet Weisenford, who teaches at the Boca Raton YMCA, and Marlo Scott of First Class Fitness and Wellness — to help explore why water is such a great environment to exercise in, and what specific moves are the most useful.

Water gave a runner new legs

I discovered the wonderful magic of water fitness after being a distance runner for many years. I suffered from arthritis and needed to find another way to keep physically and mentally fit. At my massage therapist’s suggestion, I decided to check out aquatic exercise.

Janet Weisenford, Aquatics Exercise Association certified instructor at the Boca Raton YMCA

The water fitness class she took opened a new chapter for Janet Weisenford, a long-time teaching buddy. She discovered that she could get a great total body workout — cardio, strength training, and flexibility. Janet was so captivated that she became a certified instructor through the Aquatics Exercise Association, where she learned more about the water and its properties. Here is what Janet says about why water is such a great exercise medium:

  • Water’s buoyancy cushions our joints, allowing former runners like myself to run in the water with minimal impact.
  • The water also offers resistance, not only building muscle but also building or maintaining bone density.
  • Water workouts can also improve flexibility. The reduced effects of gravity allow you to move through a greater range of motion.

Flexibility, Janet says, is important for doing everyday activities, especially as we age, and it is often a component of fitness that is overlooked.

I can attest to that. There is nowhere better to stretch than in a pool, supported by the water.

Water exercises for core

As I learned during my recovery, core muscles bear the burden of holding us upright, ready for life. So focussing on these torso workhorses is an excellent idea. I asked Marlo Scott, with whom I’ve published posts on posture and on weight loss, for her favorite core exercises.

Core is a no-brainer: The plank, the push-up, and the bicycle.

Marlo Scott of First Class Fitness and Wellness

Notice how the old-fashioned sit-ups aren’t on Marlo’s list? The bicycle works not only the mid-section abdominals but also the obliques, back muscles, gluteus and hips while improving coordination, stability, and flexibility. The plank and push-ups add work for the chest, back, and arm muscles.

In the water, I love cross country skiing and then anything that involves a twist — even better, a twist with a noodle. I also think pull ups at the pool’s edge are fantastic. And front and rear leg kicks (as in doing the backstroke and the crawl) are great, too.

Marlo Scott of First Class Fitness and Wellness
Jane Kelly Amerson Lopez pool demonstration: jogging, plank, bicycle.

Try it for yourself

If you haven’t tried a class or a water workout at home, please do! I am sure that you will become a fan!

Janet Weisenford, Aquatics Exercise Association certified instructor at the Boca Raton YMCA
Marlo Scott jumping for joy in her new water exercise gear!

Politics Monday: Florida is on the Rise, and That’s Not a Good Thing

Florida hides COVID data

Florida recorded more coronavirus cases last week than California, Texas, New York and Illinois combined. But you won’t hear about it from Governor Ron DeSantis. The state no longer reports daily illness, vaccinations, and deaths.

We’re blind. The governor has made it more difficult for people to be informed.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss

Out of sight, out of mind.

The media is keeping tabs

The New York Times shows that Florida is experiencing full-fledged outbreak, with cases up nearly 200 percent in the past two weeks.

New York Times July 19, 2021 COVID data chart for Florida (data source: CDC)
New York Times July 19, 2021 COVID data chart for Florida (data source: CDC)

The statewide coronavirus positivity in Florida is running at fifteen percent, three times the safe level of viral transmission. And Florida boasts one out of five new US cases, Newsweek reported.

Vaccinations low

The constant denigrating of science-based precautions — which started out with mask regulations and then shifted to vaccines — is proving to be deadly.

As the more transmissible Delta variant continues to spread across the country, we will likely continue to experience an increase in COVID cases in the weeks ahead, with these cases concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates.

Jeff Zeints, White House coronavirus response coordinator, quoted in Newsweek.

What’s driving the new infections are unvaccinated 18-to-44-years-olds that are partying, going to gatherings and they’re coming down with the infections.

Dr. Alina Alonso, Palm Beach County Health Department

Choosing freedom over life

… getting his own vaccine in private without fanfare, outlawing mask requirements from local governments, promoting fringe medical opinions… and ordering cruise ships to accept unvaccinated Florida passengers… All to promote a disingenuous freedom argument for an airborne spread illness that can be fatal.

Frank Cerabino, The Palm Beach Post

The governor wants to give the impression that there is nothing wrong in Florida, but we’re actually leading the country now in COVID.

US Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach

Republican lawmakers must … realize that their voters will at some point resent the anti-vaccine advice that is singling them out for death.

Heather Cox Richardson

Yup, out of sight, DeSantis is out of his mind.

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon
Clay Bennett editorial cartoon, Chattanooga Times Free Press

This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky

Family Friday: How We Spent our 23-Hour Vacation

Several months ago, I was confident that my husband and I could live as pandemic hermits forever. We had gotten very good at the closed-in life, us and our rescue Lab, Kumba.

But, then came the COVID-19 vaccinations. We began to venture out. At our favorite breakfast place, the three Latin sisters who preside over the very welcoming environment greeted my husband as family: “¡Tío!” Uncle. A couple of weeks ago, we even went to the movies and the wonderfully overwhelming sensory overload kept us both awake into the wee hours of the morning.

Our biggest breakout move happened last week, when we left Kumba in the care of my best friend and drove off by ourselves for a full 23 hours, some of it masked, much of it outdoors, and all of it a long-awaited vacation in our favorite local town, Delray Beach.

Dinner al fresco

What a vacation kick-off: Delectable seafood pasta al fresco at Cafe Luna Rosa, polished off by the best slice of cheesecake either one of us had ever had, all the while enjoying the breeze off the Atlantic.

Live music at the Arts Garage

It was the first performance for the Miami Big Sound Orchestra since the pandemic, and the appreciation of the full house flowed out of us and back from them for nearly two hours. Thinking of each of the 18 musicians sitting alone in their homes for the past 16 months just waiting to perform again filled my eyes. (We kept our masks on.)

Ladies, I know you will understand when I say that I am wearing heels for the first time in a year and a half!

Lourdes Valentin, singer
Miami Big Sound Orchestra

Hotel accomodations

We have long been curious about the hotel across the street from the Arts Garage, the Hyatt Place Delray Beach, and now we’ve finally stayed there after enjoying an evening in town. We cleaned all the handles/switches and slept well in the comfortable (and quiet!) room, and we took advantage of an optional late check out and left our car in the covered garage after breakfast to enjoy our Saturday morning.

Just outside the hotel is the Delray Beach Pride Streetscape diversity rainbow, updated to include persons of color.

LGTBQ Rainbow, Delray Beach
LGTBQ Rainbow, Delray Beach

Strolling main street

We hardly ever get out for a walk without Kumba, much less on a city sidewalk. Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue is lined with restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and shops, including Kilwins. We had to stop for a scoop of toasted coconut ice cream on our way back!

Lounging on the beach

Delray Beach
Delray Beach

Kumba barely missed us

Our rescue Lab’s separation anxiety used to put at risk anything not nailed down when we left him alone, so we prepare treat-filled Kongs as a special treat when we go out. We left three Kongs for our friend to give him after she’d walked and fed him, and crossed our fingers.

Well, those Kongs became games for Kumba and our friend’s rescue dog Lila, who ran and played together Saturday morning as if they’d known each other all their lives. What a change from the Kumba who was aggressive toward other dogs! Our patient training has paid off.

And when we got home, instead of the exuberant delight Kumba normally expresses at our return, he was happy but just a little disappointed that it was us instead of Lila and her human. Shades of picking our daughter up from daycare: Oh, it’s you? I’m playing with my friends.

Wellness Wednesday: Meet Jade Wonzo, the Teacher Who Wants Yoga to be for All

I left my first yoga class halfway through feeling pretty defeated.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

I was not expecting my yoga teacher to admit this right up front in our interview. How refreshing!

It was hot. It was hard. I was uncomfortable. But I went back. And back. And back. Because it gave me this feeling of peace and calm all the way home.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

Jade Wonzo was working in the corporate world when she discovered yoga as a place that she could, as she puts it, “shut down.” Within a few years, she had quit her job to train as a yoga teacher, a skill she hoped to put to use in the gym she and her new husband were opening in Palm Beach County. 

Jade never did end up teaching there, but was picked up by LA Fitness and pop-up studios here and there, becoming part of the yoga community. As she was training and teaching, however, she noticed that she stood out.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

I was often the only person in the room who was brown and curvy.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

In addition to being bi-racial, Jade has struggled with her weight, topping off at 240 pounds at one point. She knew that there were others like her, just waiting to be invited into the calming practice of yoga.

How many people have shown up at a yoga class only to be the only one who looks like them? It’s a lonely and frustrating place to be.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

That’s when Jade quit trying to fit in and started teaching yoga the way she wanted to be taught. Her mantra is Yoga For All.

Everyone wants to be seen, to be heard, to be loved. And I think people see me and can identify with me — as a woman of color, as a large woman, as a mother.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga
Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

Jade’s son is three. The gym she began with her husband struggled through the pandemic intact, but the marriage did not. Jade is honest with her students about her struggles.

I’m in the process of a difficult divorce and my son recently had brain surgery. If it wasn’t for this practice, what I’ve gone through would have broken me.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

Instead, Jade gets on her mat and comes back to herself, showing up and sharing her journey with her students and her thousands of social media followers. Check out the stunning pictures and her candid posts on Jade’s Instagram and Facebook pages, and sign up to receive emails on her website.

And come join me in Jade’s 11AM Saturday morning class through the Palm Beach County Library, which runs through August. To register, click here.

Next time: tips from Jade Wonzo on how to get the most out of yoga.

Politics Monday: American Support for Haiti’s Slain Autocratic Leader Has Echoes in My Father’s Foreign Service Career

In a front-page, above-the-fold article in Sunday’s edition of The New York Times, reporters Natalie Kitroeff and Michael Crowley write that the United States backed the increasingly autocratic rule of President Jovenel Moïse prior to his assassination this month:

Critics say the American approach to Mr. Moïse followed a playbook the United States has used around the world for decades, often with major consequences for democracy and human rights: reflexively siding with or tolerating leaders accused of authoritarian rule because they advance American interests, or because officials fear instability in their absence.

Natalie Kitroeff and Michael Crowley, The New York Times, July 18, 2021

America’s position was similar in my father’s first Foreign Service assignment in Venezuela (1955-59). Protecting US oil interests was the driving force in supporting the regime of dictator Pérez Jiménez, but that very support nearly cost Vice President Richard Nixon his life and prolonged chaos after Venezuelans overthrew the dictator.

Here is what Dad said about how he balanced the official American position against his personal sympathies for —and friendships with — the underground political resistance who ousted Pérez Jiménez and established a long-lasting participative democracy. My father was interviewed by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training in 1998, becoming part of ADST’s extensive diplomatic oral history collection.

Oil drove US support of Venezuelan Dictator Pérez Jiménez

We arrived in Caracas in 1955 during its boom country heyday under the repressive rule of dictator Pérez Jiménez:

Venezuela was known mainly by North Americans who followed Latin American affairs as the boom country: petroleum was, in a word, the reason for its economically robust condition. There was a very high level of American investment in Venezuela — something close to $3 billion — mostly in the strategically important oil industry. Protecting those oil and U.S. business interests, working for stability in this government, were keystones of U.S. policy towards Venezuela.

Robert C. Amerson, interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Dad’s job was to work with the Venezuelan media, making positive relationships with many who chafed under the repressive rule during our first three years in Caracas.

I’d visited countries under this kind of rule, but to work with local media, as the Information Officer is required to do, to watch government pressure and censorship in action, was by itself quite an education. We observed all of this through ’55, ’56, ’57 as the tensions grew and the frustrations mounted among the journalists. Over that time, naturally, through personal contacts with media people, we built up a lot of friendships and confidences.

Robert C. Amerson, interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Resentment against America boiled over

When military Pérez Jiménez was overthrown in 1958, resentment against America for its support of the dictator — who had been awarded exile in Miami —boiled over.

In January of 1958 the people, in effect — specifically, clandestine political movements and dissident elements within the military — rose up against Perez Jimenez, because of corruption, because of widespread dissatisfaction under aregime where civil rights were restricted, where political prisoners were tortured.

There was strong nationalist feeling about the United States over the years having cozied up to Perez Jimenez, having in fact awarded him a few weeks earlier a special official honor. This was part of the Administration’s policy — maintaining stability, keeping the oil flowing, supporting U.S. investments and so forth. But the idea of officially honoring a military dictator was poorly thought through, because the popular resentment against the U.S. thus created was just enormous. That plus the fact that Perez Jimenez by this time had sought and been awarded exile in Miami. So we were harboring their former dictator as well as Pedro Estrada, his hated secret-police chief. All of these emotional things were causing heated resentment.

Robert C. Amerson, interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Incriminating letter added fuel to the fire

They had effective anti-American material to work with. Besides the U.S. award and then exile for the dictator, as mentioned a moment ago, there as the matter of a letter written by a former American ambassador — a professional FSO. He’d been a very good ambassador, but he had indiscreetly written right after Christmas a Holidays greeting to the secret-police chief, something to the effect that, with reference to an abortive revolution attempt, “I see you’ve had a little problem there, but I expect you boys are taking care of it. . .”

Well, this letter then was discovered by opposition forces when they wrecked secret police headquarters, and they held it as a bit of condemning evidence about American complicity with Perez Jimenez.

Robert C. Amerson, interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Vice President Richard Nixon was attacked

Caracas was Richard Nixon’s final stop in a South American goodwill tour that spring, when resentment against America nearly cost him his life.

The ambassador’s incriminating letter was published in the new Communist newspaper showing a full-page photo of the VP, retouched to give him sharp, animal teeth.

So by the time Nixon arrived there was a good deal of primitive political passion among certain elements, and some doubt within the Embassy as to whether this visit was a wise idea. But the decision was made: we should not back down now, especially in the face of Nixon’s problem a few days earlier in Lima, San Marcos University, where he’d had some adversarial and highly publicized confrontations with students.

So he and Mrs. Nixon arrived as scheduled on their special U.S. Air Force plane. What images this recalls, for anyone who was there at the airport! Who can forget the sight of those crowds that had been bused down by the professional agitators and organizers, the banners that had been printed up for it, their stationing themselves in the balcony above where the Nixons and the official party had to pass. This arrangement allowed the demonstrators to throw things down, shout epithets and even spit on the visiting Vice President and his wife. This agitation escalated into a major security problem by the time the motorcade reached the city and could have cost lives — including those in the Nixon party.

Fortunately, in that mob scene, the cars did not turn over. They were badly beaten upon and dented, windows smashed, spittle all over them. They were a sight to behold! (I was just looking at a Life Magazine of that time a couple of days ago and it brings back the realities.) The official Nixon party finally took refuge in the American Ambassador’s residence.

Robert C. Amerson, interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Relationships with the resistance helped usher in democracy

When things finally exploded our contacts [with journalists, academia, labor, the church] paid off in a handsome way for us at the Embassy because we were then close to people who were in the opposition and about to take charge.

Robert C. Amerson, interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

In 1994, my father published a book about his four years in Caracas, working in a dictatorship, through a revolution, and into a nascent democracy, How Democracy Triumphed Over Dictatorship: Public Diplomacy in Venezuela. That democracy has lasted until today, albeit under populist leader Hugo Chavez and his putative heir, Nicolas Maduro.

Trump strives to drive out Maduro, but is himself ousted

In 2018, then president Donald Trump promised to take out Maduro, one of the reasons that he did so well with South Florida’s Latin vote in the 2016 campaign. Indeed, the uprisings against Maduro echoed the 1958 overthrow of Pérez Jimenez.

Instead, here we are three years later, with Maduro still in place and the failed Trump in his summer residence on a New Jersey golf course.

Family Friday: What Makes Me a Third Culture Kid?

There was a letter to the editor in my newspaper this week from a Palm Beach County neighbor who was born in the United States but grew up in Asia as the result of her parents’ missionary work.

Like the children of military members, diplomats, and, in my case, missionaries, I became what is called a TCK, a Third Culture Kid. Our backgrounds are different from that of our parents’ home country and from the country where we grew up.

Angela Grant, The Palm Beach Post, 7/15/21

I’m a TCK, too. I was born in the USA to Midwesterners, but we flew into the Foreign Service when I was just six months old, and my sister (born in Caracas) and I grew up mostly in Europe and Latin America. We were professional Americans overseas, but our international experiences made us an odd fit when we moved to the States. I’ve been trying to bridge the gap my entire adult life.

Cross-cultural expert Tanya Crossman

TCK’s deal with some unique challenges in integrating that experience into what we’ve done with the rest of our lives. It’s the subject of research being conducted by Tanya Crossman, an Australian who lived in China for over a decade.

Tanya is a noted cross-cultural consultant and TCK/Cross Culture Kid advocate, and the author of Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century. She writes that the term Third Culture Kid was coined by in the 1950’s by Dr. Ruth Hill Useem while studying children of American families living in India.

These children were not Indian, though they lived in India. They were American – though they weren’t experiencing that country. This childhood experience was neither that of an Indian child nor that of an American child. It was somewhere in between – in a Third Culture.

Tanya Crossman, July 2016 blog post

Legal, geographic, and relational culture

Tanya writes that culture can be defined in three ways:

  • Legal: the place in which you have a passport or permanent residency
  • Geographic: the place(s) in which you live.
  • Relational: the experiences woven together from life lived in between cultures.

Legal representative of America overseas

I had an American diplomatic passport, and, as an embassy kid, understood that I represented the USA. Sarah Mansfield Taber, whose overseas childhood as the daughter of a CIA officer is an almost exact match with mine, writes this about having a diplomatic passport:

Only representatives of foreign governments were issued these, my father told us. I could feel an American flag waving inside me.

Sarah Mansfield Taber, Born Under An Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter

But not a geographic American

I was an official American when I lived in Venezuela, Italy, Colombia, and Spain. But my identity morphed when we moved to the States.

Though I looked American, I was not; I was a sort of clandestine foreigner.

Sarah Mansfield Taber, Born Under An Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter

I am from the Third Culture

The connection I feel with Sarah Mansfield Taber is the TCK’s relational cultural identity.

The Third Culture is the childhood home of those who did not experience comprehensive connection to a single place as children.

Tanya Crossman, July 2016 blog post

My memoir, Embassy Kid (being assessed for publication by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training), looks back at where I am from. I have shared the Preface and will be sharing chapters in the coming weeks.

I cannot imagine being a citizen of any other nation. We are the freest, the most fortunate people on earth. Whether our people arrived on a recent flight or a wooden boat, and whether we choose to wear hijab or a yarmulke or spray paint our hair with the colors of the rainbow, we are all from somewhere else, and we are all here now.

Angela Grant, letter to The Palm Beach Post

Wellness Wednesday: Why Do I Miss Being a Patient?

I sat alone in the audiologist’s isolation room, my eyes closed, and concentrated on listening. And there it was, a beep. And another. And … there, another.

Why was I having my hearing tested? As we emerged out of the pandemic and into society, it seemed to me that I wasn’t hearing people as well. Maybe it was the masks. Or my ears. Or both. My husband, who wears hearing aids — most of the time, though masks wreak havoc with other things hooked around ears— thought I wasn’t hearing as well. So, I went to the ENT practice which had last tested my hearing in 2018.

We’ll get to the results shortly. Here’s what happened to me first.

Being in that small, quiet room and following the audiologist’s orders brought back an unexpected wave of nostalgia for the comforting simplicity of being a hospital patient. No errands. No to do list. No bills, no calls. Just being in that bed for that time was all that was required. Doing what I was told.

It felt really weird to miss it.

It was a simpler time. Maybe like “doing time”? Definitely much nicer than being locked up, but similar in requiring the acceptance that I was in this place and that’s all there was to it.

How did I lie in a single bed for three months? I just did.

The trade off, of course, was that a big bunch of that time there was absolutely nothing my body could do for itself. I was an indebted, and often inert, captive. But my body held on until my mind could join in the effort. I was a very good patient. I aced it.

So here I was sitting alone in this small room, following the audiologist’s commands, when I was overcome with nostalgia.

My reverie was interrupted by the audiologist as she prepared me for the next test. Had I had any antibiotics by IV? Yes, I said, loads while I was hospitalized in 2019. She nodded, wired me up, and shut the door. I anticipated hearing more beeps and tweets. Nothing happened. Or maybe, I thought, something had happened and I couldn’t hear it. Not one sound for what seemed like minutes.

“Sorry,” her voice called over the equipment, “Got a little tied up there. OK, now we’ll start.”

The beeps restarted. I sailed through the test. The audiologist pronounced my hearing “perfect.”

Despite all that I’d been through, I’d avoided damage that hardcore IV antibiotics can cause to the sensory cells in the inner ear that detect sound and motion, resulting in hearing loss, dizziness, and tinnitus. It’s called ototoxicity. Another bullet dodged. Another one-in-a-million story.

That night, I Googled the question, “Why do some people like being in the hospital?”

Because being hospitalized can be like a retreat. No decisions, other than medical ones. No dishes to wash,no housework. No work deadlines. 3 meals, clean sheets. A call bell.

Nancy Walters, on Quora

And, in my case, because these men and women became my community. Who wouldn’t miss this amazing support team?

Politics Monday: Denial and Door-Knocking and Covid-19

DeSantis tries to minimize the pandemic

Last week, I wrote about GOP-led Florida becoming the only large state to stop reporting daily coronavirus statistics. The data are now rolled into a weekly report that no longer includes the number of hospitalized COVID patients and the number of tests. The Palm Beach Post has continued to perform a critical public service by using multiple sources to keep the public informed on our continuing public health crisis.

Florida’s COVID-19 caseload is growing faster than most states, CDC figures published Friday show. Over the past week, 110 state residents for every 100,000 became infected, compared to 34 per 100,000 nationwide. [As] the number of new COVID-19 infections swells to levels not seen since early May, the pace of vaccinations across Florida has slowed to a crawl.

Chris Persaud, The Palm Beach Post, July 10, 2021

It’s tricky to parse the numbers, playing right into the denials’ game, but I have begun a weekly chart, waiting for trends to emerge. Luckily, the people in charge of our country are not lying back but, rather, leaning in to bring the vaccine right to our doors through community efforts.

The White House pushes vaccines

In his recent article for the Associated Press, Zeke Miller writes about the White House’s renewed focus on the grassroots vaccination campaign as the vaccination rate plateaus across the country, including in Florida.

We need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, door to door to get help to the remaining people.

President Biden, quoted in Zeke Miller’s AP article

The GOP pushes disinformation

The GOP has taken the political opportunity to play to their small-government and libertarian base.

The Biden administration wants to knock on your door to see if you’re vaccinated. What’s next? Knocking on your door to see if you own a gun?

Representative Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, quoted in Zeke Miller’s AP article

Disinformation campaign is unAmerican

it’s really a disservice to the country and to the doctors, faith leaders, community leaders, and others who are working to get people vaccinated.  This is about saving lives and ending this pandemic. 

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary

Door-to-door is working for vaccines, but cases continue to rise

Despite Republican governors’ efforts, Americans are being helped.

In Florida, the adult vaccination rate increased by 4.4 percent.

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary

However, the state rate of infection continues to be in the top three nationwide.

With 211 new coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents, Florida’s infection rate is higher than that of 47 other states reported by the CDC.

Chris Persaud, The Palm Beach Post, July 17, 2021
Editorial cartoon by Mike Thompson, USA Today
Editorial cartoon by Mike Thompson, USA Today

Family Friday: How My Dog and I Supported Turtle Rescue

Just north of us, in the seaside town of Juno, there is a stretch of sand known for being one of the largest nesting sites in the world for sea turtles. Adjacent to that beach is Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a conservation and rehabilitation organization that each year treats nearly 100 sea turtles and 1,000 hatchlings. Through an amazing network of volunteers, LMC tracks and protects nests each season and facilitates after-dark tours. Around the Fourth of July several years ago, we participated in such a tour and witnessed a turtle actually laying her eggs and then dragging herself back across the sand to the sea.

A couple of weeks ago, our rescue Lab, Kumba, and I participated in a LMC fundraiser, a virtual four-mile race called Run 4 The Sea. We walked our own local route and were 141st out of 183 participants. The 2021 Run 4 The Sea raised about $30,000 for sea turtles!

In return for our effort, we got an adorable LMC tote bag and a set of wooden utensils (in a canvas bag from Atticus Printing) to use on our next picnic.

We also got a nifty new t-shirt which Kumba kindly modeled for me. Yeah, he was rolling his eyes in this picture.

Our black Lab, Kumba, resting on his favorite stuffed toy as he models his Race 4 the Sea t-shirt
Kumba, resting on his favorite stuffed toy as he models his Run 4 the Sea t-shirt.

Having the ability to do the distance is something Kumba and I have worked at every morning since he came to live with us in February, 2021. We were both frail when we began our morning walks, me not quite a year into my recovery from a ruptured arterial aneurysm and Kumba nearly done in by illness and trauma before being saved by the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida.

We’ve made huge strides since then. Next year, we have our eye on matching the results of the event’s oldest participant, about a decade older than me and clocking a sub-15-minute mile.

I think Kumba will be happy just NOT to wear the t-shirt. Hey, LMC, how about a doggie bandana for next year’s Run 4 the Sea?

My rescue Lab, Kumba, modeling our turtle rescue fundraising t-shirt
My rescue Lab, Kumba, modeling our turtle rescue fundraising t-shirt.